Emotional freedom technique (EFT), which people often refer to as EFT tapping, is a practical self-help method for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and several other conditions. It was developed in the 1990s by Gary Craig, who considered his approach to be an effective combination of mind-body medicine and acupressure techniques. An offshoot of Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which is promoted as a treatment for fear and phobias, Craig studied TFT with its founder, clinical psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan, the originator of tapping therapy. Callahan discovered that verbally focusing on a problem or issue (emotional or physical) while manually stimulating acupuncture points could bring surprising relief.
Not surprisingly, EFT has also been called psychological acupressure. The principle at the core of both EFT and TFT is that all emotions and thoughts are forms of energy. Negative and positive thoughts have a physical imprint that affect all functions of the body.
However, many experts have questioned the scientific validity of EFT. Although some small studies have been conducted, much more research is needed to substantiate the purported benefits.
What is EFT tapping?
EFT is a self-help technique that involves tapping near the end points of “energy meridians”—energy hot spots—located around the body to reduce tension. On the official EFT website, Craig describes EFT as an approach that “combines the physical benefits of acupuncture with the cognitive benefits of conventional therapy for a much faster, more complete treatment.” The cause of all negative emotions, he says, is a disruption in the body’s energy system.
How does EFT work?
The basic idea is that tapping stimulates these lines of meridian points. Traditional Chinese Medicine describes meridians as rivers in the body flowing with energy. Each point in EFT corresponds to a major meridian. Sometimes a strong emotions or trauma can form blockages in these energy conduits. In TCM, a balanced, steady flow along all the meridians is necessary for optimal health.
The process of tapping in the EFT recommended order of points is said to form new neural connections. EFT entails a simple but precise pattern of tapping on nine acupressure points of the body while you simultaneously imagine the object or experience that disturbs your equilibrium.
The idea is that the tapping sequence can permanently interrupt the “program” of events that occur in the brain between the presenting issue and the physical response you experience.
What can you use EFT For?
How to get started with EFT tapping
Here is a condensed version of The 5 Steps of The EFT Tapping, taken from EFT’s official website.
1. Identify the Issue:
Make a mental note of what ails you and what you are choosing to focus on, such as a sore shoulder. This becomes the target at which you “aim” the EFT Tapping Basic Recipe. Be sure you are only targeting one issue at a time.
2. Test the Initial Intensity:
Here you establish a before level of the issue’s intensity by assigning a number to it on a 0-10 scale where 10 is the worst the issue has ever been. This serves as a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of doing a round of EFT on the issue in question.
- For emotional issues, you can recreate the memories in your mind and assess their discomforts.
- For physical ailments you can simply assess the existing pain or discomfort.
3. The Setup:
The Setup is a process you use to start each round of tapping. By creating a simple reminder phrase and saying it while continuously tapping the karate chop point, you let your system know what you’re trying to address. (The karate chop point is at the center of the fleshy part of the outer hand.) The purpose of the phrase is twofold: It’s meant to call out the issue, as well as anchor the issue in a deep wellspring of self-acceptance.
The EFT template for the phrase is:
“Even though I have this _______________, I deeply and completely accept myself”.
The blank represents the problem you want to address, so you can just insert things like:
This sore shoulder:
“Even though I have this sore shoulder, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
4. The Sequence:
In this phase, you repeat the phrase you are working with as you tap on the sequence of points.
The sequence of tapping points are as listed:
- Top of the Head (TOH)—at the center of your crown
- Beginning of the Eyebrow (EB)— just above and to one side of the nose.
- Side of the Eye (SE)— On the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye
- Under the Eye (UE)— On the bone under an eye about 1 inch below your pupil
- Under the Nose (UN)— between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip
- Chin Point (CH)— Midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip
- Beginning of the Collarbone (CB)— The junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet
- Under the Arm (UA)—At the side of the body about four inches below the armpit.
The reminder phrase can be abbreviated to something quite short, such as “This sore shoulder.”
You tap with two or more fingertips approximately 5 times on each point.
Note that while some of the tapping points have twin points on each side of the body, for convenience purposes, it’s only necessary to tap on side. However, if you have both hands free you can certainly tap on both sides for good measure.
5. Test the Intensity Again:
On your scale of 0-10, re-evaluate the issue’s intensity. How does it compare with the previous level? Ideally you want the intensity to diminish to a close to zero level.
The bottom line:
As an alternative treatment for a range of issues, some preliminary research has found EFT to be an effective approach. Please note that this therapy is not intended to replace traditional Western medicine or therapy methods, but works alongside it.
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